Meet Little Stevie

Stevie's Vizsla Friend

I got an email from a rescue group to sign up as a foster. Two days after I signed up I got a call to come see a little blind dog named Little Stevie. One of the volunteers, who scour the kill centers to save as many dogs as possible, found Stevie in kill pen with dogs like pit bulls. He was curled up in a corner trembling from fear with his little head down. She could see his eyes were damaged and pulled him out anyway.

Little Stevie was determined to have an untreatable case of heartworms as well. I don't believe he was expected to live. He has been with us for 4 years and his first few months were harrowing. He seemed to be in pain in his chest and had trouble breathing. He weighs just 12 lbs. and is a smooth coat Basenji/Chihuahua mix. His body was continuously hot and his breathing fast and painful. I think he was just having panic attacks. The first week or two we cooled him down with wet cloths. This also seemed to soothe him. It took several weeks, but his breathing and temperature finally normalized as long as he felt no stress. But two weeks into his arrival his eyes began to swell. His right eye was becoming enormous and his pain level elevated and his stress level returned.

The rescue center veterinarian told me his eye had to be removed. This must be very painful surgery. His entire head swelled enormously and he became depressed again. Lots of medication and love slowly brought him out of his dilemma. Well, no one ever wanted to adopt Little Stevie and we had been through so much together that I agreed to keep him as my own. I had experience with blind dogs and lots of support from friends. I had a poodle named Kiwi who passed at 18 and was blind from the age of 10. There are lots of tricks to make blind dogs more independent and happy. They had worked with Kiwi, then she went deaf also, and finally developed a form of senile dementia. We were accustomed to having a blind dog in the house ... so Stevie fit right in.

For 1 year I kept Stevie very close to me. He stayed on my couch and slept in my bed. I carried him outside and other places to save time. Then I realized that he needed to be self - determining and I started showing him the steps and doors and encouraging him to jump on the couch and bed. He taught himself to jump down and we made a clear spot so he wouldn't dent the coffee table with his little hard head. Now he jumps with such vigor that he looks like an athlete dog. He has built up muscle in his shoulders and does not complain of any chest pain or fear. He is a spinner and snapper. That is probably a habit he picked up to warn away big dogs. He cuddles up to my Vizsla ( a new rescue) and follows both her and me throughout the house. He even goes off on a walk-about of his own frequently. Stevie has an ear piercing yodel-bark when he realizes he is in a room alone. He looks like a hackney pony prancing around in the yard. We have a 20+ year old African Gray parrot named Skeeter who whistles and calls to Stevie. She calls him Steven because she hears me scold him with that name.

When Kiwi was blind our Chow would lead her to the door and bark for her to go out or in. She adopted Kiwi and made sure that she knew where her food was, and checked her by touching her nose. The Chow, Xena, was also a rescue that we found in our yard. She is now 14 and arthritic. We have a house full of happy animals that we serve.

Story by Nan Sherrill Smith

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